Low vitamin D may increase rectal, but not colon, cancer risk

August 29, 2007 in Cancer Prevention, Vitamins, Minerals, Supplements

Low vitamin D may increase rectal, but not colon, cancer risk

A new study by Japanese researchers has linked low levels of vitamin D to quadruple the risk of rectal cancer in men.

In this study, 375 men and women with colon or rectal cancer had their vitamin D levels compared with healthy subjects. The researchers found that men and women with rectal cancer had significantly lower levels of vitamin D than their healthy counterparts. However, the incidence of colon cancer was not affected by low levels of vitamin D.

Men and women also seemed to by affected differently by low levels of vitamin D. Men with the lowest levels of vitamin D had 4.6 times greater risk of rectal cancer while women with the lowest vitamin D had 2.7 times increased risk.

Vitamin D is known as the "sunshine vitamin" because it can be synthesized in the skin upon exposure to the UV rays of the sun. Food sources of vitamin D include salmon, sardines, eggs yolks, butter and fortified milk, margarine and soy beverages.

Previous studies have linked vitamin D to a lower risk of many types of cancer in post-menopausal women, and prostate cancer in men.

In light of the health benefits of vitamin D, the Canadian Cancer Society now recommends 1,000 IU (international units) of supplemental vitamin D per day during the winter and fall months and all year round for Canadians not exposed to sunlight in the summer months.

A 75 gram serving of fresh, cooked tuna provides about 600 IU of vitamin D.

All research on this web site is the property of Leslie Beck Nutrition Consulting Inc. and is protected by copyright. Keep in mind that research on these matters continues daily and is subject to change. The information presented is not intended as a substitute for medical treatment. It is intended to provide ongoing support of your healthy lifestyle practices.